Only One Life

This month, the high school seniors of 2016 are launching into adulthood. It’s their season of profundities and pontifications, of mortar boards sailing through the air, of hard-earned diplomas, of inner quavering. “I’ve graduated. I’m done with school. What do I do now?”

Traditionally, high school classes have chosen mottos to live by, some silly, some far-reaching.
The other day while driving through a small town, we saw a big signboard on which the local class of ’16 had posted their motto: “Only one life, right? Don’t blow it!”

The thought was right on.

How many young people let the months coast by without a thought that some day they’ll run out of time?

How many older people look back at their unfulfilled dreams and think with regret about their wasted years?

In our retirement community, the people who are most satisfied and joyful are those who’ve devoted their lives to what they feel is a high purpose. It might have been staying at home to raise children. It might have meant faithfully sticking with a less-than-ideal job in order to care for one’s family. When people know that God has called them to a specific task or tasks, there is no satisfaction higher than accomplishing that task.

My mother had a small picture on the wall, which we children passed every time we went up or down the stairs. A silhouetted woman in an old-fashioned hoopskirt sat at a spinning wheel. Above her was lettered,
    “Only one life.
    ’Twill soon be past.
    Only what’s done for Christ
    will last.”
          —Charles Thomas Studd (1860-1931)

Once upon a time, spinning yarn was a time-consuming but essential, daily task. Even in silhouette, that woman looked so content and satisfied, she made an impression on me that’s lasted through the decades. Whether she was real, whether she even had a name, she wasn’t blowing her life. She was doing—and doing well—the task she was given.

Whatever the life God gives each student in this year’s crop of young people, we who love them pray that they’ll realize early that they get only one chance to live the moments of their lives. May they live those moments well, in accordance with God’s good plan for them. Don’t blow it, graduates!

photo credit: As The World Keeps Turning … via photopin (license)

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